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Various Artists

Om Lounge 3


Somewhere out there is the perfect cocktail party. The environment is spacious, with space-shuttle-white walls, deco sci-fi furniture, and drinks served in martini glasses frosted a neon green. Everyone at the party looks fabulous. The conversation is light and surreal, party games include trying to figure out who brought the mescaline and which guests have had their drinks spiked. And Om Lounge 3 provides the soundtrack to an evening heavy with content and magical realism.

I’ve never been to that cocktail party, although I have tried to throw a few myself. Aside from my lack of proper funding to make it perfect, I was also lacking this, the exact album for such an occasion. Om Lounge 3 is released, appropriately enough, on Om Records, a label dedicated to West Coast amalgamations of trip-hop and acid jazz. Or, since those categories are a bit overplayed as musical descriptions, I’ll use the press release description: “downtempo beats, served up San Fransisco style (raw, earthy, psychedelic, butt-shakin’, electronic, futuristic jazz).” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Even the album’s subtitle illuminates the loose, encompassing style of the music: “A stereophonic parlor of global rhythms and high performance atmospherics.” Wow. But this collection proves that such seemingly grandiose yet ill-defined descriptives are warranted. There’s a little bit of everything here for po-mo jazz fans and ambient electronics lovers. Just don’t expect Crystal Method or Prodigy. This is mellow electronica at its finest.

Many collections similar to this one try too hard to make each track flow into the next. Om Lounge 3 instead wisely relies on the relationships between the songs, building an overall feeling as each song maintains its own space. The transitions are not the melding of one beat into another, but an excellent jazz technique of letting each new rhythm pick up where the last left off.

Standout tracks include King Kooba’s “Koobesq,” Chaser’s “Blue Planet,” and Andy Caldwell’s “Tropicalis,” but if I highlight those too much I’d be slighting equally beautiful grooves from Fila Brazillia (“Airlock Homes”), Boozoo Bajou (“Under My Sensi”), East West Connection (“Love Music”), and The Verbrilli Sound (“Cansada”). Actually, there’s not really a weak track on the disc, especially in the context of the album as a whole. People Under the Stairs’ “Schooled in the Trade” and John Howard’s “Spacewalk” seem a little beat-heavy to close the album on the same cool jazz note that the album begins, but like I said, this album progresses from one moment to the next and that’s its magic.

Only major-label (DreamWorks) jazz act Soulstice give a single song (“Tenderly”) that would fit well on a mix-tape for a lover, but the album as a whole possesses a surprising sensuality for a techno-flavored send-up. As atmospherics go, this could be the album for the cocktail party to end all cocktail parties, or it could be a futuristic soundtrack for getting it on. Take your pick with how you use it, but definitely pick this one up.

Patrick Schabe is an editor, writer, graphic designer, freelance copyeditor, and digital content manager, depending on the time of day. He has also worked in a gas station, at a smoothie bar, as a low-level accountant, taught college courses online, and cleaned offices, so he considers his current employment a success. Under his unassumed identity, Patrick holds a BA in English -- Creative Writing from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a Master of Social Science with an emphasis in Popular Culture Studies from the University of Colorado. He's currently at work on a first novel and a non-fiction piece on cultural theory. Patrick lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife, Jessica, who makes everything worthwhile.

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